This Easter Sunday we got up a little early so we could make it to Mass before the crowds. My husband’s words were “We have to get there before someone blocks us out.” We made it in plenty of time to sit in my husband’s favorite spot, the last pew. At least we aren’t behind the pillars, I thought. (If we sit on the other side of the church, we are behind the pillars because my husband has to sit on the far left of the pew to favor his bum knee.) But it was still the back pew.
Three of our boys are still shorter than I am, and I’m not what anyone would consider tall. Mass is usually spent trying to stretch little necks into awkward zigzags so they can see, through the vast array of backs and backsides between us and the altar, the wonderful miracle happening “before our very eyes.” Easter Sunday was no different. And then a man who would be called tall situated himself right in front of me. Now, once again, my neck was one of the ones being twisted in order to see Our Lord on the altar.
I decided that next week I am sitting in one of the front pews so no one can “block us out.” I am tired of sitting where my husband is the only one who can see. I wind up having to police the boys, who are trying to entertain themselves in the pew.
Another thing that affected my Mass experience during Holy Week and in to Easter Sunday was the choir. Our choir sits up front, with the cantor or choir director actually at the altar. They tend to perform. I like to join in the Mass by praying the prayers and singing the hymns, albeit imperfectly. I long to join my voice with the voices of the angels who are singing praise at every mass.
The choir sings songs that the congregation doesn’t know while we stand in silence. They receive Communion at the head of the line, so the Communion hymn doesn’t start until about half the church has received, again leaving us to stand in silence just waiting for them to get settled in and start singing something we can’t join. When we are expected to sing, the music director has chosen either brand new hymns every week or arrangements that don’t flow intuitively. Not being able to enjoy singing has really diminished my joy in the Mass. I almost cried, I was so sad at not being able to participate fully.
After we got home, people started making their breakfasts. My sweet husband realized that we were almost out of bread. He invited me to go with him to Wal-Mart to replenish our supply. We went and spent as much time shopping as we had at church.
Back at home the boys were concerned over who’s turn it was to play on the computer. They argued over who got to help their father plant grass seed. They bickered about who was touching whom.
I put a chicken in the oven and made all the side dishes, but by the time it was ready, I just wanted to check out of the family. I realized that our Easter Sunday was no different from any other Sunday. There was nothing special about the day, nothing to set it apart.
After some consideration, I have decided that I need people around for holidays and holy days. In the eight years we have been living away from home and family we have spent only a few holidays with extended family. When we did, my holidays were fun and full of fine fellowship. When we stayed put and celebrated by ourselves, I was generally ready to crawl into bed and have a good cry by the time dinner was on the table. Those times when we stayed put and invited friends to celebrate with us, again my holiday was both joyful and meaningful.
I have now informed my husband that I require people for the holidays. The relationships with extended, even unrelated, family is what makes the holidays for me.
So, who wants to come help me do Mother’s Day right?